Edmond Ip, hailed 'Trailblazer of the Year' by HICAP South-east Asia, is intent on blazing another new trail – he is working on a new hotel brand that will be like the Shanghai Tang of the industry. Yeoh Siew Hoon reports.
Edmond Ip, hailed "Trailblazer of the Year" by HICAP South-east Asia, is intent on blazing another new trail – he is working on a new hotel brand that will be like the Shanghai Tang of the industry.
Called Hua Di, it will give a luxury, modern twist to the history and culture of China. "What David Tang has done with Shanghai Tang – that will be a good illustration of the brand that I'd like to develop," said Ip.
Ip, who was recognised for "his roles in the early days of Hyatt's expansion in Asia, co-founding Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, spearheading IHG's growth in Greater China and establishing the IHG academy network for fostering China's next generation of hotel professionals", had worked on the brand when he was with InterContinental Hotels Group and was now developing it for himself.
Calling it a "personal brand", he said, "A lot of people are in love with the China of today but they don't know its history and culture. I want to cultivate a new method of translating the history and culture, and using Chinese art in a different format."
Ip, who is now CEO of Kosmpolito Hotels International, a division of Far East Consortium, recalled his first 16-and-a-half years with Hyatt when he accepted the award at the HICAP South-East Asia conference in Singapore. "It was hard to leave the company but I remained good friends with the Pritzker family."
Asked by Peter Barge of Jones Lang LaSalle how different it was working for the Spritzkers and the Kwek family, when he was with CDL, Ip said there wasn't much difference as both were hands-on owners.
Most entrepreneurs and successful people, he said, were hands-on. They got involved, some of them more than others, and most of the time, they are right. "Otherwise they wouldn't be where they are."
Commenting on the financial challenges of today and if there was a bubble forming in China, Ip said that having worked in the industry for 40 years, "there are bubbles everywhere. When did we not have a bubble?"
The difference is "China is huge, it's four times bigger than the US".
He said there would continue to be ups and downs. "That's the nature of business – you have to make adjustments in life. It's like personal life. But China is still the place to go, still the place to grow."
Ip was born and raised in Hong Kong. One of his biggest achievements is setting up the IHG Academy in partnership with 22 tourism institutions and universities in China to provide training for hotel management students in eight Chinese cities.
He is also involved in a number of charity initiatives, including Project Hope, which provides children in need with educational opportunities, scholarships, new school construction and expansion in China.Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.
Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders. WIT 2010: October 19-22 SUNTEC Singapore ~ www.webintravel.com